Wednesday, January 04, 2012

A Case for Dale Murphy

I admit I am a dyed-in-the-wool Atlanta Braves fan, so this blog post is probably biased on this issue. But Dale Murphy is again on the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ballot where he has been languishing for a few years of eligibility. In fact, he is on his next to last chance on the ballot before he gets bumped off the baseball writers' ballot permanently.
I remember having this card as a kid.

Frankly, if he does not get in this year, his chances are virtually over because there is a host of potential Hall of Famers slated to come on the ballot in the next year that will supersede him, or will at least garner all the media attention. He has an outside chance that the steroids issue may kick off a few of the 2013 newcomers to the ballot like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, and Craig Biggio. Granted those guys are steroids users (or at least a few cases highly suspected thereof,) but the steroid-user-into-the-Hall-of-Fame debate will certainly overshadow those stuck on the languishing balllot from years past. Murphy might squeak by if there is a major boycott by voters of anyone tainted by steroids, but I really do not see that happening. If Murphy does not get in this year, I think his chances are over.

Murphy's Number 3 was retired by the Braves in 1994. 
Dale Murphy was one of my baseball heroes when I was a boy. He was the one star on the late 1980's Braves squads that were usually perennially in the cellar and always awful. (I blame the old powder blue uniforms, but that's a separate issue...) Dale Murphy was a good player, but an all around great guy. He was a devout Mormon and did a lot of charity and missions work. They don't make baseball stars of his all around class too often any more. The beauty of Dale Murphy was that you know he never took steroids. He was too nice, too clean, and too scrawny really (Mark McGuire he ain't) to have taken anything like that.

He played for mostly horrendous teams for most of this career with the exception being the 1982-83 Braves squads that managed to get above .500 for the only times in the 1980's. He also managed to get traded away right before the Braves got good in 1991. Then he got traded away from Philadelphia before the Phillies got good in the mid-90's, and then had to finish his career with a year in the expansion Colorado Rockies team that was truly one of the worst teams in history, only to see the Rockies get good a few years later. You gotta feel for the guy.

Even despite all that, he managed to win 2 MVP awards and 5 gold gloves; he still had a .265 career average, scoring almost 1200 runs, having almost 400 home runs (398), and 350 career doubles. All this playing without steroids and for teams that had no offensive back up for him, which means pitchers could pitch him hard, knowing they could get all the other players out.

Compared to other recently elected Hall of Famers, I think he matches up pretty well.

Jim Rice? 1 MVP, no gold gloves. 1249 runs scored, 2452 career hits, 382 homeruns, 373 career doubles,

Robby Alomar? Playing on very good Toronto teams, 210 home runs, .300 career average, 1508 runs scored, several gold gloves but no MVP's, and a notorious spitting on the umpire incident. (In Alomar's defense, the umpire did insult his mother, and you simply don't say things like that to a Hispanic person without expecting some sort of response.)

Andre Dawson? 2774 career hits, .279 career average, 438 home runs, 503 career doubles, 1 MVP,  several gold gloves, and a bat tossing incident (I remember watching this live.)

I think the numbers speak for themselves, but I always apply what I call my 50/50 rule to selecting Hall of Fame candidates. 50% is what they did on the field, 50% is what they did off the field. Stats are nice, but was the player in question a leader in the dugout or a clubhouse fungus? Did the player use the most of his fame and money to give back to the community or did they hoard all their money and become a reclusive playboy? Considering he was a true sportsman that had good numbers, never took steroids, gave back to the community in many ways (and continued to do so after he stopped playing) and was usually forced to play on horrendous teams, I think he's a Hall of Famer for sure.

Can you imagine what Dale Murphy could have done if he had played on winning teams, particularly in a larger venue like New York or Chicago or Los Angeles?

I think this is a no brainer myself, but then again I have my standards.

1 comment:

The Archer of the Forest said...

As a side not, my 50/50 rule is completely legitimate. This clause is still included in the BBWAA Hall of Fame Voting Rules for Election: “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”